KANSAS CITY, Mo.—A supplier fire in Michigan last week is pinching production of the F-150 pickup, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., but the impact is expected to be minimal for both Ford Motor Co. and its dealers.
The auto maker said it will halt F-150 production at its Kansas City Assembly Plant between May 7-14 because of a parts shortage following a massive fire at a plant owned by Meridian Lightweight Technologies. About 3,600 workers will face layoffs for that period, during which they'll receive roughly 80 percent of their take-home pay.
While the F-150 is Ford's most important vehicle—it has been the country's best-selling vehicle for 36-straight years—the auto maker has enough stock to be able to weather the downtime.
At the end of April, Ford had an 84-days supply of F-series pickups, according to AutoData. Even with heavy demand, the production stoppage would likely have to last for multiple weeks to dent those numbers.
F-series sales in the U.S. rose 4.1 percent to 287,295 vehicles through April, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
In addition to Kansas City, Ford also builds the F-150 at its Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan. Production at that facility is unaffected by the supplier fire, Ford said.
Other automakers said the impact will be less significant.
Mercedes-Benz, one of Meridian's other clients, said some of its operations were not affected by the incident. However, at other shops, Mercedes "will temporarily halt production through midweek until an assessment and recovery plan is confirmed," a spokesperson told Automotive News in an email.
BMW, in a statement to Automotive News, said production of its X5 crossover will be affected Monday afternoon and evening. It said its plant South Carolina has an inventory of parts on hand.
General Motors said there was no immediate impact to its operations, although its global supply chain team continues to monitor the situation.
The fire took place at Meridian's 208,000-square-foot plant outside of Lansing, Mich.
Meridian produces instrument panel components at the plant, with annual production of around 13,140 net metric tons , the supplier's website said.
As of Friday, the cause of the fire had not been identified. The plant was bringing operations back online, the company said.
Plant Manager George Asher last week said in a statement emailed to Automotive News: "The immediate goal for the team at Meridian is to perform our evaluation of damage so that we can assess when we can return to normal operations."
Meridian said it is working with its customers to move dies to its plants in Strathroy, Ontario, and the U.K., Asher wrote, though the letter did not disclose the names of the customers.